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Recusal Averted as Gorsuch Kicks Off First Day

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Supreme Court hears Missouri church playground case

Katyal, who served as the acting U.S. Solicitor General under President Barack Obama, was one of Gorsuch's biggest advocates during his confirmation proceedings - penning an op-ed for The New York Times under the headline "Why Liberals Should Back Neil Gorsuch" - and there was some question before Monday's hearing about whether Gorsuch would recuse himself from the case because of that support. He and his colleagues were hearing cases for the first time since Donald Trump's choice to replace the late Antonin Scalia was sworn in on 10 April.

Perry v. Merit Systems Protection Board, the first case before the justices Monday, concerns jurisdiction over certain types of federal employment lawsuits.

Of those surveyed, 50% said Gorsuch's appointment to take up the vacant ninth position at the Supreme Court is good news, while the other half disagreed.

Gorsuch appeared chummy with Sotomayor throughout the day's arguments, sharing a laugh at the start and end of the first case. Justice Clarence Thomas, for example, has long declined to ask any questions during oral arguments, preferring to let the attorneys lay out their case.

"It was Justice Gorsuch's views on religious liberty that might have been the most persuasive thing to conservative advocates when he was nominated".

Gorsuch showed his well-known, heavy focus on the text of statutes in order to judge cases before him.

Gorsuch reportedly skipped a private conference among the justices last week so that he could be well prepared for this week's arguments. By one empiricist's count, he spoke more words than six other justices.

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The judge was also quick to speak up when he felt that he was not getting a direct answer to his questions.

The U.S. government, which arguing as a friend of the court, proposed something of a compromise solution, saying that intervenors should not face an inquiry on their standing so long as they do nothing to alter the litigation they join. As the junior justice, Gorsuch now sits to the chief justice's far left, and to the far right from the vantage point of the advocates. Trump was able to fill Scalia's vacancy only because Senate Republicans past year refused to consider Obama's nominee Merrick Garland.

The Supreme Court's newest Justice is making his debut for oral arguments.

Gorsuch, however, was quiet for the first half of arguments in that case, while Neal Katyal argued on behalf of the petitioner. Lamenting that no one who isn't a lawyer could possibly understand it, Alito asked Fletcher whether he knew "who wrote this statute?"

Gorsuch responded: "Thank you very much, chief justice, and thank you to each of my new colleagues for the very warm welcome I've received this last week".

Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. said the case was "unbelievably complicated" and drew laughter from the courtroom spectators when he speculated that the person who wrote the law must be "somebody who takes pleasure out of pulling the wings off flies".

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